This paper assesses plans to create an independent air traffic control corporation. While the plans being considered don't seem to offer the benefits that could result from privatization (the possible downsides are not being noted here), they also do not offer obvious resolutions to the problems currently faced by the air traffic control system. Since the specifics of a proposal are not currently available, it is not possible to provide a comprehensive assessment of its merits. However, any such proposal will not offer many of the benefits often claimed by advocates of privatization. There also do not appear to be any obvious fixes to the problems faced by the current system as a result of going the route of limited privatization.
Notwithstanding a creditable safety record, the Federal Aviation Administration is under fire for mismanagement, particularly in the field of technology modernization. The airline trade association "Airlines for America" ("A4A") and its member carriers are calling for separation of the FAA's air traffic control ("ATC") operations into some kind of independent corporation.
The chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), has announced his intention to offer a plan resting on some questionable principles, to be discussed below.
The appeals for reform typically reflect a yearning for system improvement, a lack of specifics, and a dearth of supporting arguments or data. Dorothy Robyn (2015) of the Brookings Institution noted that "a jaw-droppingly flawed variant on corporatization" has attracted support.
It is possible a new air navigation service provider ("ANSP") could provide better service at reduced cost, but thus far no evidence for such a reform in the U.S. has been put forward, nor has any detailed plan been proposed.